Park City, KS (westernkansasnews.com) For the Hugoton girls basketball team it’s been a series of first this year. First conference title since 1992. First undefeated conference season. Add to the list matching their 20 win season of ’92-’93 and first ever win at state.
The top seeded Hugoton Lady Eagles (20-2, 13 straight wins) were tested in their 4A-II state quarterfinal at Hartman Arena in Park City, but never wilted in holding on to a 54-49 win against eighth seed Jefferson West (11-12). For Hugoton who fell in both their state first round games in both 1993 and 2014 the third time was definitely the charm.
For the Lady Tigers they did not played anything like an eighth seed. Jefferson West came into the game having gone 9-5 over their last 14 games after starting out 2-6. The Lady Tigers also beat Holton in last week’s substate final 35-26. The same Holton team that knocked out Hugoton in last year’s first round game at state 53-41.
Jeff West started off on an early 5-0 run as Hugoton took three minutes to score their first points of the game. Once the Lady Eagles kicked it into gear and ended a 17-2 run with seven minutes left in the first half on a Melissa Fabella two point bucket.
The Lady Tigers came back with a run of their own 15-7 and pulled to within one at 24-23. Jeff West could have had the lead. One aspect of their game was working. Jeff West hit 4 of 7 three’s in the first half, but they struggled from the line going 7 of 12. The second half did not get much better after hitting 8 of 13 shots for 62 percent the rest of the game Jeff West went 10 of 23 including 1 of 6 beyond the arc and only attempted two free throws the rest of the game.
Jeff West poised problems for Hugoton. Olivia Brees an honorable selection all-state last year stands at six foot three and Mariah Murdie at six foot two. Brees committed back to back fouls within a matter of seconds late in the first half. Brees fouled on the offensive end and then hammered a driving in Dallie Hoskinson when Hugoton brought it back up the court moments later. It may not have seen significant at the time, but Hugoton was glad that Jeff West could now play more on Hugoton’s level by having their tallest player on the bench the rest of the first half.
Hugoton recorded 18 steals in the game and forced 24 turnovers while only committing twelve of their own. The Lady Eagles looked for every advantage they could get after West Jeff dominated them on the boards 33-19.
In the fourth quarter, Hugoton made enough shots to win. Lady Eagle Senior Riley Sosa buried a three with two minutes left to give Hugoton a 50-45 lead. One minute later Stef Armendariz stripped sophomore point guard Faith Becker of the ball and cashed it in for a layup to give Hugoton a seven point lead with one minute to go.
Jeff West melted Hugoton’s lead down to three with Mariah Murdie’s two pointer. Hugoton inbounded and nearly ran out the clock before Katy Heger was fouled with four seconds left. Heger nailed both the front and back end of a one on one when a missed on her first shot would have allowed Jeff West the chance to launch a 3 in the hopes of tying.
Just like Heger nailed it from the line last week in the three point win over Pratt at substate, Heger a seventy percent free throw shooter did it again and prevented even a three from bringing the Lady Tigers back.
Hugoton was led by Katy Heger’s 16 points followed by Amy Scott who added 15. Dallie Hoskinson a game after her top rebounding performance of 11 in the win over Pratt added 8. Faith Becker led Jefferson West scoring 11 points and pulling down eight boards.
Coach Andy Gillen’s post-game comments
Hugoton moves on to play Clay Center (18-5) for a trip to state in Friday’s 4A-II semifinal. Fifth seeded Clay Center needed overtime to eliminate Columbus 50-48. Pre-game coverage begins at 2:45 Friday afternoon from Park City. Tip-off is at 3.